Did Mill man commit suicide or was he Murdered?

Posted by | April 14, 2010

THE GREENVILLE [SC] DAILY NEWS – April 15, 1910

MYSTERY SHROUDS THE KILLING OF BEN ALLEN.
Did Mill man commit suicide or was he Murdered?
MAN ARRESTED AND NOW IN JAIL.

J.C. Lindley, who boarded at dead man’s home, 204 Hammett Street, Poe Mill, was arrested by Deputy Sheriff John Hunsinger and will be held on murder charge — Though it was rumored that Allen’s wife was intimate with Lindsey, he refused to believe that she was untrue.

Mystery shrouds the death of Ben Allen, a white man of 201Hammett Street, Poe
Mill, who either committed suicide or was murdered yesterday morning, at his home at 1:00 o’clock.

J.G. Lindley is now in jail, having been arrested by Deputy Sheriff Hunsinger late yesterday, because a high feeling against him existed among the neighbors near the home and it was thought that possibly he would have been handled roughly by the people. He will be held in connection with the mysterious affair. When taken to the jail he refused to talk of the matter.

About one thirty o’clock yesterday morning the villagers of Poe Mill were disturbed by the clear report of a revolver firing, and upon investigation it was found that Allen was lying on a bed with a bullet wound in his right temple. Death was evidently quick, for the missile ploughed its way through the brain.

Coroner Batson was summoned about daylight and he took charge of the case. A jury was selected and inquest was held over the body at — o’clock, and after about two hours of deliberation the jury returned a verdict “that the deceased came to his death from a gunshot wound at hands unknown to the jury.”

The jury was divided in its opinion. Some thought it was just a plain case of suicide, while others held out that he was killed by somebody. Perhaps the most startling testimony taken was that of Allen’s father, who said that he had been with his son the evening before and that he was cheerful, and that he did not believe his son committed suicide and that he met with foul play.

He objected to telling who he suspected of having killed his son, but upon the coroner clearing the room of spectators, Mr. Allen said he suspected a certain man, and when pressed for a direct answer, said he believed the man was Lindley, and when asked why he suspicioned Lindley, Mr. Allen said that it was because there had been a good deal of talk about Lindley being intimate with his son’s wife while they lived in North Carolina and also since they had been in Greenville.

He added that his son wouldn’t believe that his wife was untrue to her sacred vows, and for this reason alone he said his son did not have any reason why he should take his life. Lindley boarded at the house, and at the time of the shooting, claims he was sleeping in the other room on a pallet in the floor. This room was also occupied by Allen’s wife, who was there with her four children who were sick with measles. It was said that Lindley agreed to stay up at night and attend to the children while the husband slept.

In testifying, Lindley said he did not know anything of the shooting till Mrs.
Lindley woke him up by saying that she had heard a shot and thought the sound came from the next room. Lindley said he went to the door and saw a bullet hole in Allen’s head. This statement caused some comment, for the spectators wanted to know how in the dark he could see a bullet hole in the dead man’s head when he was lying on a bed several yards from the door.

One point that puzzled the jury mostly, and which no doubt caused it to reach the verdict above instead of saying that the dead man came to his death by gunshot wounds in his own hands, was the position in which the pistol was lying. It was but a few inches from the man’s head and the muzzle was pointed toward the wound. According to the laws of nature a pistol, when fired in such close proximity to a person’s head, will not drop in a perfect position, but will fall with the head, possibly going several feet from the body and the barrel pointing in another direction.

Another point which directed the jury too was the fact that the dead man’s eyes were closed as if in perfect sleep. It is said that when a person commits suicide, especially inflicting a wound in the head, that the eyes will not close entirely. Some even thought that he was shot while sleeping and that the pistol was laid close to his head as a bluff.

The dead man’s father said reports as to the woman’s intimacy with Lindley often reached his son but the son loved his wife and wouldn’t listen to tales of scandal and shame, believing that she was true to her vows. He said that he saw no reason for his son to commit suicide, and believed that he was murdered.

source: http://files.usgwarchives.org/nc/henderson/bios/allen01.txt

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